How Mobile Apps Can Grow Your Non-tech SMB

July 2, 2015 | Raj Srivastav

How Mobile Apps Can Grow Your Non-tech SMB

We all know that the tech world has benefitted greatly from the recent explosion of mobile apps. What’s a little harder is understanding how this new Digital Age impacts business that aren’t involved in the tech industry.

The truth is that the proper mobile Android or iOS app can help expand any business, especially when combined with good marketing practices. I know that diving into the dark depths of Silicon Valley and the tech industry is an intimidating process, even for those who are in the industry, but it can be extremely helpful. The truth is that most SMB owners stand to benefit even more than larger companies.

Mobile apps can increase brand awareness, keep customers engaged and grow your customer base. A mobile app can inform customers of news, provide a geolocation, and creates a whole new type of digitally connected support networks (see how SDI has helped businesses from beauty schools to casinos here).

The Importance of Branding

Branding is an all-important feature of a successful business, always has been, and always will be. Your brand is the image you present to the world and it’s the face by which the world recognizes your company. Unfortunately, if you own an SMB, such as a craft brewery, it’s unlikely that you have as much capital to spend on marketing your brand as, say, Budweiser (cue bullfrogs).

Well, a mobile app is a fantastic way of increasing your brand for an exceptionally low price. An SMB owner can create the perfect mobile app, market it via social media, and provide a place for easy communication between you and your clients.

You can use a mobile app to let subscribers know when a new beer (sticking with our craft beer example) is released, providing them with details such as style, ABV and IBU (beer bitterness). You can also provide the history behind the making of the beer and even an interactive recipe list for home brewers and die-hard beer drinkers.

Another excellent example can be found in the food truck industry: in the last few years, this field has blown up in Silicon Valley and a mobile app can provide a leg up on the competition. Food trucks provide a mobile service on the go, and this pair with mobile apps well. A mobile app can be used to inform clients where you will be located – or can even be used to ping clients when you are nearby.

As mentioned above, a mobile app can help drive up sales of all products, but it is especially important to sell new products. Customers are more likely to buy something from a brand they recognize and like

Clothing designers can especially benefit from this because clothing brands are recognizable instantaneously and are visible on most pieces of clothing. If you have a custom app for loyal customers, your brand will be even more noticeable and people will be more willing to buy clothing from a designer they know.

Engagement and Loyalty

Any business knows the value of engaging customers and keeping them loyal. Not only will they keep coming back to you, but they will bring others to your SMB as well. Branding and engagement go pretty much hand-in-hand here – the best way to create a well-known brand is by engaging customers.

Fortunately for your SMB, a mobile app is an inexpensive and extremely effective way of rewarding customer loyalty. Returning to our food truck example, a mobile app that provides customers with information on your location is an extremely basic way to encourage customer engagement. In reality, an app can do much, much more for a food truck:

  • Provide free items or discounts to customers who purchased food, and then uploaded their receipt to your app Visually stimulate subscribers by offering pictures of food you are cooking that day

  • Provide customers with the daily menu

  • Ask subscribers for menu suggestions

This can all be expanded to include all sorts of businesses. The key is using the app to offer your clients something they can’t get elsewhere. Whether that is a brewery letting a loyal customer choose the next beer brewing, or by designing an outfit for a lucky subscriber, the key is engagement.

Build a Community

Of course, an app doesn’t need to be just a business to customer interaction platform. There is no reason why an app can’t be used to connect local businesses to one another. Clothing designers can use an app to connect to local businesses that sell supplies or that can sell a designer’s product. An app can be used to organize and market special events can be held in certain stores to the benefit of both designer and seller.

Breweries can do the same with “tap takeovers” at local beer pubs or bars. They can also connect to other breweries to do special collaborations, or can connect with farmers growing exotic ingredients. An app can also be used to set up special events at other businesses – i.e. the head brewer has a Q&A at the local bar.

Food truck owners can make an app that automatically informs other local food industry owners know when the truck is nearby. It may be counter-intuitive to inform the competition, but it opens the door for a partnership between local businesses and food trucks. A brick-and-mortar restaurant targets a different market than a food truck and vice versa, but there is no reason the two cannot be complimentary.

A food truck has high mobility and largely targets people who are on the move and looking for a quick bite. Because of this, food trucks can suffer from a local reputation. A brick-and-mortar restaurant, on the other hand, lacks mobility but has a local reputation. An app can be created that connects these two forms of foodservice. This can lead to food trucks selling local products, increasing the brick-and-mortar circulation, and lets the food truck piggyback off local reputations.

I highlighted only three non-tech businesses in this post, but there is no reason that an app can’t be created for any industry – a mobile app is the perfect business solution for any number of problems, services or sectors. Heck, creating a mobile app is so cheap that you don’t even need to be in the industry.

If you’ve ever been on your way to lunch and had a great idea for a mobile food truck app, give the app makers at SDI a call 408.805.0495 to get a free consultation. You can also reach us anytime via email at We look forward to hearing from you soon!

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